Literary Guild selection for May will give impetus to this novel of French Canada, a novel that gives us an inside picture of those people who have managed through generations to keep unto themselves, even when swept into war and the conflict of dual loyalties. This is a story of little people in Montreal's Saint-Henri, of poverty that destroyed the heart and soul, of brief encounter, opening doors to a better world. The time is shortly before the fall of France -- and with that fall imminent, a whipping into frenzy of nationalist spirit- be it French or British- and the resultant enlistments, proving only too often an artificial escape from boredom, from unemployment, from pauperism. Against this unstable setting is told the story of Florentine, who worked at the Five and Ten, and who thought that in Jean Levesque she had found escape from the tenement of her crowded home into the fire of that grand passion of movies and cheap novels. Florentine was different- but disillusionment, fear and a pathetic eagerness to put her home and family behind her, combine to break down the little prides she'd nourished.- And only at the end, when, having said goodbye to Emanuel who had saved her, she has another chance with Jean -- and turns aside -- she finds that once again her self esteem means more to her than the tawdry trimmings of passion. The writing is perceptive, vivid -- the story marches -- most of the characters live.